National Geographic : 1955 Nov
650 A. F. Kersting Oracle of Amun Spoke to Alexander the Great from the Oasis of Siwa In 331 B.C., before invading Persia, Alexander longed to know his future. To consult the Siwa oracle, according to a contemporary historian, the emperor journeyed across the Libyan Desert, following two ravens sent as guides by the god Amun. Speaking through his priests, the oracle imparted secrets that the Macedonian never revealed (page 647). Bags of Siwa dates lie in the courtyard of the acropolis. and its examination was completed by Dr. Fakhry in January, 1941. Regrettably some of the walls are disfigured, apparently by soldiers during World War II, who removed chunks of plaster as souvenirs. The sheiks of Siwa invited me to dinner in one of their beautiful gardens. For the occasion they cut palm trees for a shelter, latticed with fronds and interspersed with fruit and flowers. Great platters of whole roasted lambs and dozens of tasty dishes were set before us. It was an unforgettable experience-dining in the garden by lantern light among those hospitable, conservative people who are proud of traditions passed down to them through many generations. As I left Egypt, archeologists again were probing selected spots around the world's most massive historical monuments. From our own country, the University of Pennsyl vania had a party in the field. The winter digging season brought out a larger force of singing sandmovers than I had seen for years. If there were diggers and funds enough, the Memphite necropolis alone would yield the answers to hundreds of questions which puz zle Egyptologists and might, perhaps, alter history already written. The green valley and the sprawling delta doubtless contain thousands of buried monu ments. Many recent finds of value have re sulted from the digging of an irrigation canal, or from a farmer's decision to level a knoll in his field. Again, a patient cultivator of the rich Nile soil, noting luxuriant growth everywhere on his patch save in one spot, where stone nears the surface, digs to remove the stone-and unearths another archeological clue to the wondrous past. I left Cairo with the thought that what has been done, in terms of what may be done in the future, amounts only to spade pricks on the shimmering surface of ancient Egypt's splendor.